Australian Sniper Kill At 3079 yards

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An Australian sniper killed a Taliban commander at an incredible 3079 yards (2815 meters) with a Barrett M82A1. The Daily Telegraph reports

Two marksmen using Barrett M82A1 50 calibre rifles simultaneously fired. The bullets were six seconds in the air. One killed the Taliban commander. It is not known for certain which sniper fired the fatal shot.

As the bullet yawed through the thin air on a windless morning, GPS aids measured the distance at 2815m. That amounts to 2 1/2 times the length of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The targeted Taliban would not have heard the gunfire.

That is an impressive feat, but calling it a world record is unfair in my opinion. Lets call the two snipers Sniper A and Sniper B. Lets assume they are equally skilled and that each has a 5% chance of making a kill at 3079 yards. The probability of “Sniper A or Sniper B making a kill at 3079″ is 10% (both events are independent, so the probability is cumulative). Two snipers have a much higher chance than one sniper, for example world record holder Craig Harrison, have.

Now you might argue that one sniper did make a kill that was 3079 yards. If that sniper was known by someone, even the sniper himself, I would call it a record. Look at it another way, if we lined up twenty snipers with Barrett M82A1 rifles and each fired one shot at the enemy simultaneously and made a kill, would you call that a record?

[ Many thanks to Remi for the tip. ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://www.MichaelZWilliamson.com Michael Z. Williamson

    Well, without knowing which bullet it was, there can’t be an award.

    • Hunter

      Um, you’re dead wrong, man. There IS an award. It’s a reduction in enemy assets.
      This was not a contest on Top Shot, this was swinging the odds away from Taliban forces by relieving a command asset of his commission permanently. By that very action at least one group of Taliban forces was made inactive or ineffectual for some period of time, probably resulting in saving some Coalition lives.
      You tell the mother of some young soldier that her kid coming home isn’t an award, and I’ll bet she’ll have some stout words for you.

      God bless Ronnie Barrett, God bless physics, and today, God bless the Australians.

  • SAPH

    Yes its a record. and if you lined up 20 snipers to shoot one person, that would be a record too. Most snipers used simultaneously to score a kill.

    • Vincent

      Most snipers to simultaneously score the same kill.

  • Nadnerbus

    oh well, they’ll just have to do it again.

    God bless Ronnie Barrett.

  • Ross

    It wouldn’t be 10% cumulative. 5% each –
    .25% (Quarter of a percent) Chance that both hit
    90.25% chance that both miss
    9.5% chance that either hits

    Getting 20 shooters to fire (with same odds) means that there is a 40.13% chance that At least one will hit.

    The fact is that someone made that kill at 3079, so it is a record; just one that neither individual can claim to be theirs specifically, and they’re not claiming it, because the Australian armed services rarely boast.

    • TheDude

      Can you give us the formula? Its quite interesting to know.

      • Roy Rapoport

        Given the probability of something happening being p (and, therefore, the probability of something *NOT* happening being 1-p[0]), the chances of this thing happening at least once if you try it X times is most easily calculated by looking at the probability if it not happening at all and then taking the inverse of it.

        Said differently, and looking at the odds we posited above:

        If one sniper has a 5% chance of hitting the target, and therefore a 95% chance of NOT hitting the target,

        And two snipers shoot,

        The odds of them BOTH missing are .95 * .95[1] = 90.25%. And therefore the odds of at least one of them HITTING is 1-90.25% = 9.75%.

        If you have twenty snipers shoot, the odds of them ALL missing are .95 * .95 * .95 … or .95 to the power of 20 which is 35.85%. Which means the odds of at least one of them hitting is about 64.15%.

        [0] The cumulative probability of all mutually exclusive outcomes of a given experiment is 1; in the simplest case where there are only two possible outcomes (e.g. “success” or “failure” as in this case), this means that once you ascertain the probability of one of these outcomes (e.g. ‘success is 5%’), the probability of the other mutually exclusive outcome must be 1-that probability (or 95% in this case).

        [1] Given two events, one of which has a probability of p of occuring and the other of which has a probability of q of occuring, the probability of BOTH occuring is p*q; e.g. if you toss a coin and throw a 6-sided die, the odds of getting heads AND a 3 are 1/2 * 1/6 or 1/12. (or 8.3%).

    • John

      I think that’s 40% he’d escape
      ie
      assuming they’re independent and it’s a pure 5%
      with 20 snipers
      1 – 0.95 ^ 20 which is roughly a 64% chance someone would get him
      Still pretty astonishing – to get an idea look on google maps and find something 2815 metres away
      I was wondering if he would have heard the shot
      http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/Long%20Range%20Sniping.htm
      suggests that the H A max 750 gr is supersonic to 2300 metres
      so maybe not
      And http://www.ar15.com/mobile/topic.html?b=6&f=3&t=185622
      gives the drop as over 1000 inches at 1750 yards so at 3079 yards it’s some holdover.

      • Jay

        Sorry Roy, your math is ok, but your logic is flawed. Just because two shooters fired on the same target didn’t make the shot any easier. This is not different to one shooter taking a second shot at the same target. It’s actually harder, since you can make adjustments for the second shot.
        This IS a record and hats off to the diggers.

      • Roy Rapoport

        Jay,

        Not to pick nits, but I wasn’t making an argument that the shot was any easier or harder with two snipers taking the shot. My point was — given that someone asked for the math — to discuss the math in figuring out the odds of a hit, assuming what is, admittedly, a very simplified statistical model.

        I do, by the way, agree with you that the two snipers taking a shot is NOT the same as one sniper taking two shots, is harder, and — to continue the mathematical discussion — is required for this model, because this model assumes that the two shots are not influenced by each other (in other words, one sniper hitting or missing has nothing to do with the other sniper hitting or missing); if we were talking about two consecutive shots by the same sniper, we’d be talking about a very different situation, because the outcome of the second round is dependent on the first round.

        If I may speak personally for a moment: Irrespective of the statistics, or any sort of argument about who deserves a prize, speaking as someone whose best shot — ever — was a 2MOA hit at 300yds, I’m tremendously impressed by this achievement. And if it took then ten rounds to do it, I’d still be tremendously impressed by this achievement. I’m glad they’re on our side. And if you’ll forgive the very slight intrusion of politics into this, speaking as a resident of the state to whose police forces Mr. Barrett has refused to sell his rifles as a way to protest civilians not being allowed to own them, I’m reminded of the awesomeness that is Barrett.

        -roy

      • gunslinger

        roy,
        how is the second shot “dependant” on the first round? does the target move? different bullets? unless you are now factoring in “new knowledge” for the second shot. in that case, the probability of shot #2 is different than shot #1.

        so are we defining the shots as the same or different? if they are the same, a shot by 2 snipers IS the same as 2 shots by 1 sniper. (after 2 bullets have been fired, what’s the probability of the target being hit)

        but if shot #2 is NOT 5%, then there is a difference between 2 snipers and 1 sniper with 2 shots.
        (probability of a hit after 1 shot, then after 2nd shot).

        so, lets all be on the same page here.

      • Roy Rapoport

        gunslinger,

        My argument was that in the case of two snipers making independent shots, these two shots are entirely independent of each other (we’re presuming, of course, that the two snipers are making independent decisions and not communicating), whereas if one sniper makes two consecutive shots, chances are that sniper would use information gained from the first shot to adjust the second shot, and the odds of the second shot hitting would be different from the odds of the first shot hitting.

      • gunslinger

        roy
        you may be right, in that a 2nd shot would have the advantage of knowing where the first shot went, different wind calc, temp, etc..

        but in the original statement, the two events were independent. remember the probability of getting a heads on a coin flip if the last 99 were heads?

        so, the probability of a hit after n shots would be 1-(.95^n). and as n grows larger, .95^n gets smaller, meaning a higher chance of a hit.

        but if you want to say that either communication or past shots factor in, the formula gets more complicated.
        1-(P(s1)*P(s2)*…*P(sN)) where each P(sN) is a smaller number (higher probability to hit the target).

        so….

  • Pietro

    Well, lining up 20 snipers is unlikely to be a combat situation, while this was. So I would call it at least a record in “sniping technique”.

    • Komrad

      Too lazy to think of one myself.

      • Komrad

        That comment didn’t work right. Let me try again.

        [insert British/Redcoat joke here]

        I’m too lazy to think of one myself.

  • Greg

    As the snipers would identities would be kept secret regardless the unit can be awarded the title/award , its a record and records can be awarded to groups and indivdiuals!

    • BenJamin

      In Amerika, the current and recently reelected Office Temp would blab his mouth and take all credit for making the kill himself

      • Rob J.

        Obama doesn’t deserve credit for the actual “kill”… Then again he never publicly took credit for it. He has never come out and said “I killed Bin Laden”. What he has claimed credit for was the order to send in the SEALs, which is technically true.

      • idahoguy101

        As Commander in Chief, Obama, like any President, can take credit for authorizing a mission. Or the blame when it’s goes down bad. Carter and Reagan both took responsibility for missions gone bad on their watch.

  • chris b

    We all know how competitive snipers are – rarely do they boast – it’s the observers that open their gobs and blab.

  • Michael

    The fkr is dead at 3079 yards. Props to whoever it was that pulled the trigger…
    One less terrorist to worry about huh?

  • Crrrock

    I wonder what the sniper felt at that time?
    Recoil?

    just sayin’.

    • Rob J.

      Enemy or not, a human life is a human life. I’d be willing to bet that those snipers will always carry the weight of that death, even if they believe it was justified.

  • Turner

    ha, can you imagine if all the record-wanting-snipers would start marking their bullets with their initials or electronically after all this?

  • IMick

    Stop being a killjoy with you stats. ‘Straya mate!!! :)

    • Gidge

      Bloody oath!!!!

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    Anyone know if it was their first shot that was the kill? Bear in mind that for the shot by Craig Harrison it took him about 10 shots to get on target at that range. Also, does the fact that it was supposedly a Barrett that made the kill mean it was SASR, as the standard .50 rifle for the Army is the Accuracy International AW50F isn’t it?

    • Mystic Cat

      No-one knows anything about this claim at all, nothing. Whether it was confirmed by GPS, who the sniper was or what unit. Not a single person will come forward and verify the claim, all we have is a author writing on his own behalf in a local newspaper about a book he has written, supposedly not even the newspaper will confirm it, how they were able to print the story without verification is beyond me as verification is a journalistic must.

  • Clark

    Maybe they both hit him!

  • LJK

    “Look at it another way, if we lined up twenty snipers with Barrett M82A1 rifles and each fired one shot at the enemy simultaneously and made a kill, would you call that a record?”

    Yup.

  • gunslinger

    is it a record? yes. someone made that long shot. but who does it go to? the group, if the individual can’t be determined.

    all the record says is how far it was, not how many shots were taken. so having 20, or 100 snipers shooting just increases the chance you’ll hit the target. no different than having 1 guy shoot 100 rounds. you throw enough lead downrange, you’ll hit your target.

  • Murph

    Maybe not a record. Obvious joke: Sounds more like a record Casey Kasem could talk about, though – another long distance dedication

  • Gerelt

    The range is impressive.
    I was convinced .50 was not that precise compared to anti-personnal sniping calibers.

  • Bill

    Too much math in the morning. If I wanted that I would be doing my job not looking at gun porn.

  • The Other Dave

    I think I agree with the consensus. The fact is that one of the shooters scored a hit. Now, they may both go down in history as the worlds longest “probable kill” but one of them does have the longest recorded kill.

    I say coin toss is the answer.

  • Alex-mac

    It’s also impressive they killed a taliban commander not some teenage taliban taking a piss, sounds like it was a high value target asassination, sweet.

  • Martin

    how many virgins are you entitled to if they shoot you at the distance of 3000 yards?

    • Leonard

      I think thought they had a kind of “flatrate”, meaning you get 77 virgins regardless of circumstances ;)

    • NickB

      5% chance per sniper of getting 1 virgin (.05 X 2) = .10 , I hope the god that reccomends suicide bombing is a fair god.

  • derfel cadarn

    I know this isn’t going to be popular, but from a human point of view this is murder. This is not an accomplishment of a great warrior, like the use of drones it reduces life and death to the level of a video game. If that is what war has become then it is time to stop having wars. There is no honor in this other than as a technical achievement.

    • gunslinger

      How is this any different than the english archers? or heck any soldier with a sword? or hand to hand combat? any soldier killing a soldier is murder. war is bad. killing is bad. but this isn’t a black/white thing. is it wrong to kill someone? is it wrong to kill someone who would have killed 2 people? 10 people? 100 people?

      • Roy Rapoport

        This appears to be my day for pedantry.

        Murder is defined as “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”

        Within a set of rules (Geneva, Hague, etc), killing of others on the field of battle is considered lawful. As such, NO killing of someone else on the field of battle — whether it’s by these snipers, the English archers, or anyone else — is murder (again, assuming it’s done in accordance with the rules of war).

        It’s killing, certainly. And while one can be proud of the technical accomplishment (and let’s be honest here, we’re not really impressed that someone killed an enemy soldier here — we’re impressed it was done from approximately 3000 yds away), there’s usually not a lot of pride in killing someone — but there can be pride in preventing whatever it was that person was going to do.

      • gunslinger

        i meant to say that any soldier killing was murder, as defined by derfel.

        roy, i’ll agree with you, murder is “unlawful premeditated killing” so this isn’t murder by definition.

        once again.. words..definitions and all

    • Greg

      An enemy soldier killed face to face or from miles away by a sniper or drone is still one less enemy trying to kill you or ordering others to try and kill you.

    • John Doe

      Killing does not equal murder.

      • Sam I Am

        You must be one of those people with common sense and decent values!

    • cc19

      I think we all know what you AND the horse you rode in on can do…

    • Hywelbane

      By your name one can gather you hold the era of knights and castles as the epitome of honorable combat. What about when the cavalryman runs down a foot soldier? Is that noble? Warfare has always been a race to have the upper hand. You clearly have war confused with mutual dueling.

  • Lance

    Got to love that .50BMG Barret.

    • Abram

      Ronnie Barrett is a Man among boys, though I’d wager that he would agree it’s the rifleman more than the rifle, as always.

  • Mike Knox

    Report still didn’t say how many times they missed..

    • Su Sun

      They don’t have many chances to miss since it’s an HVT, usually well guarded and covered. Craig Harrison had time to shoot 10 bullets since the targets are busy engaging a group of British soldiers.

  • Vincent

    I think they should get an honorable mention when the proprietary awards are handed out.

  • Tony

    “The probability of “Sniper A or Sniper B making a kill at 3079″ is 10% (both events are independent, so the probability is cumulative).”

    So you’re saying that if you had 21 snipers shooting at the target, the probability of a hit would be MORE than 100%? Sorry, but the math doesn’t quite work that way.

    • Rob J.

      Probability of independent events is multiplicative, not additive. If each has a 5% chance, then the chance that exactly one sniper hits and one misses = 0.05 x 0.95 x 2 = .095, or 9.5% . The probability that both hit is .05 x .05 = .0025, or .25%. These add up to .0975, or 9.75%, still not 10%.

      For a more dramatic example, take 21 snipers, each with a 5% chance of hitting. The probability that any combination of snipers hit is 1 – (0.95 ^21) = 0.6594, or 65.94%, which is still far from a sure bet.

      • Rob J.

        if it’s not clear, I’m agreeing with Tony

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      I think you are right, assuming a 10% hit rate the probability of both hitting is 1%, and the probability of only one hitting is 18%, meaning a 19% chance that the target will be hit rather than 20%. Drawing a Venn diagram is the easiest way to understand it.

  • Cahal Mcgirr

    Sniping equivalent of a double tap ?

  • Kevin J Kehoe

    God bless any MAN worthy of this title.

  • David

    You don’t think its a record just because you don’t know who pulled the respective trigger? Really? The soldiers who fired are from 2nd Commando and their personnel deployment details are most likely classified until the end of their deployment, hence why no one is taking credit for it

  • c75

    After completing the mission they were to try their luck in Montecarlo.
    Obviously.

  • John Doe

    The thought of a 3079-yard killshot is so mindblowing that I can really feel for that dead terrorist.

  • jugy

    “Two snipers have a much higher chance than one sniper”

    That’s the whole point … it was a targeted kill mission on a known taliban commander.

    It also probably means that they’ve practiced regularly at these distances before.

  • Zee

    You call that a long range sniper kill record? This, is a long range sniper kill record.

  • Panfilo

    The author of this article sucks ass, get out there and do the same, or don’t report the story with some lame Ass’d comment at the end that the shot doesn’t count.
    If your going to report it, then let it stand, no one wants to read about you fingering yourself as I your opinion matters in long range shots when you ain’t been in the hills.

    • FormerSFMedic

      @Panfilo- I’m with you brother. What is the authors background? More importantly, what is the authors experience in long range precision shooting? I can’t even figure out exactly what his beef is? Snipers don’t have a percentage of chance. I guess really, the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You either hit or miss. What is the question? The way the author puts it, it’s as if he’s questioning whether the round hit its target.

    • DNACowboy

      Damn right, some Wikipedia editors tried to get verification and the paper said they couldn’t substantiate and that the authors comments were his own.
      His descriptions and the fact that he plagiarized Tom Irwin from Accuracy International EXACTLY makes a nonsense of this ‘claim’.
      No-one, not a single person would corroborate this story which means that anyone could claim anything and the fact that a newspaper repeats such claims without verification makes them look incompetent at worst and unprofessional at best.

  • AZRon

    “the bullet yawed through the thin air on a windless morning”

    They offer journalistic drama in place of proper English. If the projectile was “yawing”, it never would have hit the target at 1/4 that distance.

  • Lawbob

    Please take stats class again.

    Lets say flipping a coin has a 50% chance of coming up heads.

    If one guy flips it, it’s 50% chance of heads

    (Enter your logic)

    But if both guys…If sniper a and sniper b each had a coin, and they both flipped it at the same time, then it’s a certainty that one of the coins will come up heads.

    Now, go flip 2 coins at a time and see how certain u are.

    Report back after u correct ur article. I’m not saying the odds weren’t improved just your logic sucks

    • Roy Rapoport

      Lawbob,

      You’re wrong.

    • Sardaukar

      Nope. The only way you could miss the “at least one gets head” is if both get tail. That has a 25% chance to happen, so you have 75% chance of “at least one gets head”.

      • Sardaukar

        Sorry, missed the “enter your logic” part… :P

  • Jabari Hunt

    I love your website, great info! However, this article is using some VERY bad math!!! Probability does not become cumulative simply because you do it multiple times. Under that line of thinking, a shooter with a 5% chance of hitting a target would hit his target for sure if he took 20 shots (20 x 5% = 100%). That simply isn’t the case…

    I hated stats class in college, but it did teach me a thing or two!

  • Ericpwp

    The bottom line is one of the guys took the shot, scored, and is a BMF. The fact that the 2nd shooter is not a BMF, does not decrease shooter #1′s BMFness.

  • Paladin

    Say what you want, or whatever you can. I’m old school, Scout Sniper School from 1967, when the Barrett was a wet dream…and Gunny Hathcock was “The Man” if this is true it’s amazing and the T’s don’t have a place to hide. Between the drones and snipers like these guys, “they’d best stand the f–k by because all hell is about to rain down on their little raggy heads”, like we used to say”

  • Su Sun

    2 snipers working together is possible. If they miss their first shots, chances are the target won’t notice and they have time to adjust. If there are 20 snipers the HVT will definitely escape, insurgents will retaliate, operation will be compromised. If you really want to go loud and have a higher ‘chance of hitting’, you get much better result by simply setting up a few M2 HMGs and cover the area with incendiaries.

    • dntmkmecomoverther

      …yup. That’s my idea of engagement. Safer too.

  • screwtape

    A couple thoughts:

    1. Is it possible both snipers hit? I would think it would be very difficult through a spotting scope to tell the difference between one or two hits at that range, especially with .50cal bullets. For that matter, with .50cal bullets, it might be difficult to determine if a torso was hit once or twice without an actual autopsy, so even if the team retrieved the body they still might not know. I noticed that the original news article you linked to cited ‘unofficial’ discussions of the shot in sniper circles and the Australian forces wouldn’t comment ‘for the record’, so the ‘gory detail’ were somewhat lacking here.

    2. On the subject of record set / awards, etc., how about the old RAF fighter pilot scoring system? During the Battle of Britain, whenever a German fighter or bomber was shot down, every British pilot shooting at it at the time got a fraction of a kill. So if you were the only plane shooting at the Ju88, you got credited with a kill. If two of you were firing, you each got 1/2; four planes each made a pass at the bomber before it went down in smoke, 1/4 each, and so forth. So if 2 snipers shoot simultaneously at a high value target at long range, they each get credited with 1/2 of a record-setting long-range kill.

    3. The reason the Australian Forces wouldn’t comment officially is because they really don’t care: the cretin is dead and that’s all that really matters.

  • http://TheFirearmBlog grandpa

    Mathematical formulas. Percentages, earth rotation ect ect. Bottom line is two highly skilled snipers together fired at the same time and killed an enemy at 3079 yards. Why can’t this record be shared by both and without all this discussion. Sometimes things happen like this but not to often.

  • DNACowboy

    No-one made that shot, it is impossible, essentially this author is suggesting that an unknown sniper, in an unknown unit at an unknown time and place made a shot 400 METRES more than any other shot, the fact that is wasn’t recorded nor verified by anyone nor will a single person confirm it indicates it is just smoke and mirrors.
    We are talking about a 2000 yard weapon with an MOA of 2.0 at 600 yards and is an anti-materiel weapon, we are ecpected to believe that it made a kill at 3079 yards?
    lol, this is just a farce and an completely unverified one at that.

  • dntmkmecomoverther

    Hmmm. My DOPE sheet doesn’t compute that as a ‘shot’ but as a ‘lucky shot’…there are many variables which the spotter nor the scope can correct for to land that shot more than once out of a 100 tries… I am however glad that we have one less Taliban…Kudos! And congrats on the hit.

  • Cris

    + 1 to Ericpwp

  • bachelorinmaths

    Chance of 1 person making the shot: 5%
    => chance of 1 person missing: 95%

    => chance of 2 people missing: 95% * 95% = 90.25%

    => chance of at least 1 out of 2 people making the shot: 9.75%

    I’d say the 10% was close enough.

  • Howard Treesong

    We’re going to be reading about a lot longer shots now since there’s new technology that lases the target and then doesn’t fire the shot until the gun is pointing in precisely the right spot.

    This is new technology and makes anyone a marksman in minutes of using the technology.